Friday, January 4, 2008

Audiobooks vs. the written word

I've been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately. I just got an mp3 player for Christmas and before that I had been using my husband's old ipod. (I would prefer to continue using the ipod but its an older one that doesn't really handle motion well so it's hard to run with.) Has anyone else listened to many audiobooks? I've listened to many over the last couple of years and I've mentioned in reviews when the book has been one on CD rather than a physical book. I find that there is a different feel when I listen rather than read. I think I prefer to actually read but I love being able to "read" a book while doing housework or other mundane activities. What has made me think about this is that I've been listening to Right Attitude to Rain by Alexander McCall Smith. He's the author of the very popular Ladies #1 Detective Agency and that series. This book is the third in a series--Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries. Isabel is the editor of a philosophy publication and she has little philosophical asides throughout the novels. While I really enjoy these audiobooks, I'm not sure if I would like to just read one. I find her little philosophical discussions interesting as I'm listening while doing the dishes but I'm not sure if I would get bored with them if I was actually reading the book. Does anyone have any experience with this? I heard someone say recently that she had tried to read Harry Potter a couple of times and just didn't like it but then listened to the audio of it and fell in love with the books. Of course, the Harry Potter audiobooks are exceptional so this may not be a valid example.

I have only listened to Alexander McCall Smith's books, I have never read one. Has anyone else read any of them and how did you like them? I prefer the Isabel Dalhousie books over the #1 Ladies Detectives but they're pretty good too. Both series are quite clean--there is talk of sex and some innuendo, very little violence, and very little profanity. The morals in the Scotland series (Isabel's) are not very good with very worldly views on sexual relationships, but I still really like the character's and look forward to reading another book in the series.

Anyway, the whole point to this rambling post is comparing audiobooks and books. In my opinion, listening to an audiobook is enjoyable but does not have the staying power of an actual book. I personally don't retain as much of the information when I hear it compared to when I see and read it. When I read words on a page, they seem to make an imprint in my mind to some degree, not like a photograph that I can visualize but an impression that is easier to recall later. Maybe this is only because I'm more of a visual learner than an auditory learner. Whatever the case, this doesn't stop me from listening to audiobooks and I will continue to do it. It allows me to read more books and I'm grateful for the opportunity. What do you think?


Julie J. said...

I checked out some audio books once for a road trip to California. Even in the Utah/Nevada desert trapped in a small car, I couldn't get through one of them. It was so boring for me. And I don't think it's the books I chose because we tried three different ones. We just can't sit through straight talking. However, we can totally listen to comediens. I guess I just prefer reading.
By the way I have heard fabulous things about the Harry Potter Audio books! But how could they NOT be fabulous?

Eric said...

I have a friend that says you have not fully experienced Harry Potter until you have read the books, listened to the audio books, and watched the movies.

Maw Books said...

I've heard great things about the audio of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Of course, I love, love, love (did I say love) the audio of Harry Potter. Jim Dale is of course awesome. We have since bought The Christmas Carol and Peter Pan is on my wish list, both of which he narrates. Supposedly, his plan is to do one classic book a year.